What I want for Christmas and the New Year from Pope Benedict and our Bishops

Respectful and Credible Leadership

In the book Primal Leadership, Daniel Goleman describes six different styles of leadership. The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment.

Visionary. This style is most appropriate when an organization needs a new direction.

Its goal is to move people towards a new set of shared dreams. Visionary leaders articulate where a group is going, but not how it will get there – setting people free to innovate, experiment, take calculated risks.

Coaching. This one-on-one style focuses on developing individuals, showing them how to improve their performance, and helping to connect their goals to the goals of the organization.

Coaching works best, Mr. Goleman writes, “with employees who show initiative and want more professional development.” But it can backfire if it’s perceived as “micromanaging” an employee, and undermines his or her self-confidence.

Affiliative. This style emphasizes the importance of team work, and creates harmony in a group by connecting people to each other.

Mr. Goleman argues this approach is particularly valuable “when trying to heighten team harmony, increase morale, improve communication or repair broken trust in an organization.” But he warns against using it alone, since its emphasis on group praise can allow poor performance to go uncorrected. “Employees may perceive,” he writes, “that mediocrity is tolerated.”

Democratic. This style draws on people’s knowledge and skills, and creates a group commitment to the resulting goals.

It works best when the direction the organization should take is unclear, and the leader needs to tap the collective wisdom of the group. Mr. Goleman warns that this consensus-building approach can be disastrous in times of crisis, when urgent events demand quick decisions.

Pacesetting. In this style, the leader sets high standards for performance. He or she is “obsessive about doing things better and faster, and asks the same of everyone.”

But Mr. Goleman warns this style should be used sparingly, because it can undercut morale and make people feel as if they are failing. “Our data shows that, more often than not, pacesetting poisons the climate,” he writes.

Commanding. This is classic model of “military” style leadership – probably the most often used, but the least often effective. We see this in today”s church of course.

Because it rarely involves praise and frequently employs criticism, it undercuts morale and job satisfaction. Mr. Goleman argues it is only effective in a crisis, when an urgent turnaround is needed. Even the modern military has come to recognize its limited usefulness.

New Year’s Resolution: Let’s Work to Change Leadership Styles in Today’s Church

We have more than enough ecclesiastical Scrooges already……..


The Restoration of Papal Imperialism: Revisionist Church History and Tunnel Vision Theology

Pope Pius XI warned of the danger in the late 1930s as he saw authoritarian regimes growing in

Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Pius XI in his final public address in 1939, stressed:

The church, the mystical body of Christ has become a monstrosity.

The head is very large, but the body is shrunken. You young priests must rebuild the church and mobilize the lay people.”

 

1. Redefining Magisterium in Pope Benedict’s (revisionist history) reform of the reform

For years “The Ordinary Magisterium,” the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church was composed of:
The magisterial role of the pope and bishops
The magisterial role of the theologians
The magisterial role of the sensus fidelium

Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the magisterial role of  theologians and the sensus fidelium have all but disappeared. Magisterium has been redefined as what the pope and his appointed bishops say

2. Tunnel Vision theology. The old gentleman should know better; but he doesn’t. His theology is not just outdated……It is wrong.

In his latest book, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed that the church has “no authority” to ordain women as priests and rejected the idea that the rule was formed only because the church originated in a patriarchal society.

The pope said that man did not produce the form of the church, and does not have the power to change it. Christ gave the form of the priesthood when he chose his male Apostles, he said in the book-interview, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”

“The church has ‘no authority’ to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying we don’t want to, but that we can’t,” he said. This requires obedience by Catholics today, he added.

Here the Pope is speaking historical and theological nonsense.

3. Canonization of papal theological ideology. Whenever people erect monuments to themselves, red flags go up immediately. Or they should!

Special announcement: Vatican-based foundation to promote study of pope’s theology

With the pope’s agreement and funding, the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation has been established to promote theological studies on his writings and to reward promising scholars.

Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, said it was established with just over $3.1 million from the pope. The money represents part of the royalties from the publication of his books; the rest of his royalty income goes to charity, Msgr. Scotti told reporters Nov. 26.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, retired papal vicar of Rome and president of the new foundation’s scientific committee, said he hoped that someday the “Ratzinger Prizes” in sacred Scripture, patristics and fundamental theology “would be considered as something analogous to a Nobel Prize for theology.”

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Asking the critical question – rooted in Catholic history and tradition – is neither improper nor anti-Catholic.

Its is very responsible and loyal Catholic behavior.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus of Nazareth will be replaced eventually with a Jesus of Rome.

Best regards in this Advent season — as we prepare to celebrate again the birth of JESUS OF NAZARETH!

John W Greenleaf

Sexual Abuse and the Rotten Apple Theory

The press has been positive about Pope Benedict’s state visit to Britain this month. I found it revelatory in many ways.

The Bishop of Rome continues to re-make John Henry Newman in the image and likeness of Joseph Alois Ratzinger; and I think he is less interested in ecumenical dialogue with Canterbury than he is in converting conservative-minded-anti-woman-priest Anglicans and bringing them over to Rome.

What bothered me most about this papal visit, however, were Pope Benedict’s expressions of “great sadness” about revelations of widespread abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and religious. He stressed that  ”authorities in the church have not been vigilant enough” in combating the problem.

What Pope Benedict meant of course is that the rotten apples were not dumped early enough.

The rotten apple theme song has become an all-time favorite among various national and international church leaders.

Yes it is the rotten apple theory of sexual abuse in the church: dump those rotten apples and we will be back to normal.

The rotten apple theory was originally generated to explain cases of police brutality: any police officer found to be corrupt must promptly be denounced as a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel. It must never be admitted that his or her  individual corruption could be symptomatic of an underlying institutional disease that condones, promotes, and trains law enforcement people to rely on brutal force, even when unjust, inhumane and illegal.

Many years ago an old friend, Father Tom Doyle, alerted me to the folly of the rotten apple theory about sexual abuse in the church. And Tom continues to speak out, inform and alert. On my desk I have a well underlined copy of some of his recent “reflections” about clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Some observations that cry out from his text:

(1)   The institutional Catholic Church is truly a stratified society with the bishops as a powerful aristocracy at the top and the laity beneath them. This description is not merely metaphorical but accurately describes the Church’s socio-political structure. In spite of the profound inequity in their respective standing the laity provides one hundred percent of the material/financial support for the clerical sub-culture and the hierarchical government yet lay persons have no effective voice in Church government.

(2)   The laity has the potential to influence the course of the clergy sex abuse saga but thus far they have scarcely realized it. A small but very significant group of laity have been moved to the point of radical action in response to the continuous waves of abuse revelations.

(3)   The majority however are either removed and indifferent or angrily reactive to the revelations of internal Church corruption and the consequent demands for accountability. The complacency or negative reaction of the laity is perplexing in light of the harsh reality of what the clergy abuse “crisis” is all about.

(4)   There is an ideology that provides the basis for the way the papacy and hierarchy have reacted to clergy sexual abuse. This ideology is a combination of theological definitions about the nature of the Church, Canon Law and the theology of human sexuality. And this is where the rotten apple theory falls apart…. You can dump all the rotten apples but the ideology remains imbedded in the institution.

(5)   The completely inappropriate responses of the bishops and clergy to the horrific accounts of all manner of dysfunctional sexual exploitation and their excuses that they did not realize the serious effects of molestation and abuse can be partially explained by the traditional teaching on human sexuality and the impact of mandatory celibacy on the emotional and psycho-sexual formation of clerics. In other words this teaching so distorted the nature of human sexuality that clerics failed to comprehend the destructive nature of sexual exploitation.


John Greenleaf is back…

Four main reflections at the end of the summer:

 

(1) The old-time Inquistition is alive and well in our contemporary US Catholic Church

 

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced that a group of Catholics planning a “synod” for church “reform” is not associated with the Catholic Church, cautioning the faithful that the group is trying to change magisterial teachings of the Church that all Catholics must believe. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement from its Committee on Doctrine, headed by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, regarding the book, “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology.” The statement noted that the book “does not offer minor revisions to a few points of Catholic sexual ethics,” but rather, “the authors insist that the moral theology of the Catholic tradition dealing with sexual matters is now as a whole obsolete and inadequate and that it must be re-founded on a different basis.” Consequently, it continued, the authors, Creighton University professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, “argue that the teaching of the magisterium is based on this flawed ‘traditional theology’ and must likewise be substantially changed.”

(2) John Henry Newman has been beatified and his feast day is the date he left Canturbury for Rome. Great ecumenical sign for sure. What is also very clear is that John Henry Newman is now being re-made in the image and likeness of Joseph Alois Ratzinger.

(3) During summer travels in Eastern Europe, I discoverd that the Catholic Church in Croatia is strong, and wealthy, powerful and arrogant — and well ensconced in a nineteenth century Catholic ethos. When people complained that one local bishop was out of touch with the contemporary world, he shouted out in his cathedral: “If they don’t like what I am doing, they can leave right now!”

(4) And then in little Belgium. Another pedophilia explosion. The PR people for the new archbishop are saying the scandal is really the fault of a few rotten-apple priests and religious and has been greatly exaggerated by an anti-Catholic media campaign. To date three bishops in Flemish Belgium have said it is time to drop celibacy as a requirement for ordination. The new archbishop has replied that he does not think this is an oppportune moment for such a discussion.

 

The kids are back in school. The nuts are falling from their trees. The pope is back in Rome. And it is indeed time for ANOTHER VOICE once again!

 

 

RIP William R. Callahan: Champion of Social Justice

Rev. William R. Callahan, an international leader in movements for social justice, peace, and reform of the Roman Catholic Church,

died on Monday, July 5th in Washington, DC

In 1976, together with Dolly Pomerleau and Jesuit Bill Michelman, he founded the Quixote Center, where – as he put it – “people could dream impossible dreams of justice and make them come true.”

In 1980, Bill was silenced by the Jesuits on the issue of women’s ordination, but resumed his public stance a year later. 

In the late 1980s, he founded Catholics Speak Out, a project of the Quixote Center that encouraged lay Catholics to take adult responsibility for the direction of their church.

In 1989, the New England Province of the Jesuits, at the direction of the Vatican, threatened Bill with dismissal unless he severed his ties with the Quixote Center, Priests for Equality, and Catholics Speak Out, and returned to Boston.

He was dismissed from the Society of Jesus in the early 1990’s. 

Over the years, Bill guided many projects that the Quixote Center initiated.  These include: New Ways Ministry, a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics, the successful Karen Silkwood case on nuclear safety issues (completed by the Christic Institute), and Equal Justice/USA – a project opposing the death penalty.

Bill, far better than many Catholic leaders, understood the tension between laws and justice. Laws vary from time to time and place to place. Justice is unconditional. Laws are real but justice is a spirit that haunts laws and those who make and enforce laws.

People with enough power and influence often violate the demands of justice under the protection of the law and persecute the just.

The George W. Bush administration did it every day by unjustly making the poor poorer, by shrinking the size of the middle class, and by  filling the pockets of the rich with perfectly legal tax breaks.

The Christian Right — among whom are far too many prominent Roman Catholics — calls for law and order but makes hardly any mention of the biblical demands for social justice: justice for people forced to move to a foreign land to squeeze out a meager living. Justice for people caught in the poverty of inner-city life. Justice for people forced to work for below-subsistence wages and with no health care.

The God of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and JUSTICE shines like a bright spotlight on the hypocrisy of those who, under the cover of God and in the name of Jesus, oppress the most defenseless people in our society.

In the Gospels the only time we see an angry Jesus is when he shows his anger at the hypocrisy of religious authorities who made a living denouncing sin while thriving in and concealing their own corruption. And they did it all, like those bishops today who cover-up sexual abuse of children, in the name of God.

A prophet is not someone who sees the future but a man or woman who warns about the consequences in the future of a present evil.

A prophet hears the call of justice as a human cry for help and the beating of a human heart.

Let us thank God for prophets like William R. Callahan and may we be inspired and encouraged by his example and memory.

 

What Rome Never Understood: From Power and Control to the Reign of God

The Roman crucifixion of Jesus is the iconic and ironic symbol of today’s deeply troubled Church.

 

A brief meditation about Sacred irony

 

With cruel mockery, the Romans labeled Jesus “King of the Jews.” The crucified Jesus proclaimed for all time the essence of genuine Christian belief: the Reign of God — the Way of Jesus —  is not about the strong-arm rule of power and control.

In the Reign of God the weak are strong. God’s Reign —  rule of Jesus —  invites and extolls  self-giving, patient listenting, tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness.

Some Christians just never seem to hear or understand what authentic belief is all about.

Christianity is about the powerless power of the Reign of God. And that powerless power reigns wherever the questioning, the least and the most undesirable are favored while the most orthodox and the most powerful are put on the defensive.

When the institutional Church degenerates into the nineteenth century Catholic ethos, it regresses into a sinister and deeply un-Chritsian lifestyle.

No. It is not just a question of a diffent theology or a different ecclesiology. It is a matter of poor theology and bad ecclesiology.

The Rule of Rome is not the Way of Jesus.

Without a change of heart, our old instituition risks the loss of of its immortal soul…..

 

Pastoral Reflections about People Who Exercise Authority in the Church

“He taught with authority, not like the scribes and Pharisees”

Pope Pius VI    —    Pope from 1775 to 1799

 

Authority comes from Latin auctor which means author: the capability to influence people.

Jesus provided the model for Christian authority: service and invitation to live the life of the  Spirit.

 

Historical Evolution of Authority in the Church:

In the second and third centuries authority is identified with trusting and trustworty leaders who preside over and guide the church.

In the fourth to eleventh centuries, authority becomes identified with political authority, now exercised by church leaders.  Monasticism with its stress on moral authority is a reaction against this.

In the eleventh century Gregorian reform (reform against lay encroachments on the church), the papacy claims monarchical authority.

The sixteenth century Council of Trent stresses hierarchical authority.

Vatican I (1870) stresses papal authority, the monarchical papacy, and proclaims the pope infallible.

Vatican II stresses that — in the style of Jesus — authority is for service and should be exercised in a collegial mode.

How we should understand church authority today:

I      The ability to influence and create specific consequences in the life of another, for good public order in the church.  This is impersonal, normative and legal authority. This is necessary but easily regresses into authoritarianism and self-serving mechanisms — often secretive — of institutional power and control.

II    The ability to motivate and transform people based on trusting relationships.  This is operative and relational authority.

 Contemporary reflections:

Good leaders and good followers are good listeners — in contact with reality.

Responsive leadership generates credibility which is the bond of trust that must exist in any healthy faith community.

Secrecy and a lack of tranparency in how leaders and followers make their decisions destroy Christian community.

Polarization in the church is an unhealthy development.

With honesty and transparency we need to focus

on mutual responsibilities, mutual conversion, and mutual collaboration in building and maintaining the church.